Just Bat Things

January 02, 2017:

After helping to confront a Nazi Sorcerer bent on unleashing Hell on Earth, The Dark Devil, Batman, and Spoiler discuss next steps in Azalea's training.

The Batcave

A cave. Full of bats, and people who dress like bats.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Zatanna Zatara

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…


The Batcave.

It's less jarring this time, waking up here. She'd not lost consciousness because of some specific injury, but rather an exhaustion of the soul. Hard to quantify on scanning equipment, and it's also hard to say just how long she'd be out. But other than a few broken ribs - a near constant injury as a Gotham vigilante - she seems mostly fine.

In her mind's eye she sees the struggle, dark against dark, Muller's pit of a soul, and the /thing/ that surrounds hers like a broken halo. Then, as the energy lashes back and forth the cracks seem to fuse, the mad gibbering of the creature becomes a more salient stream of consciousness, and very suddenly The Dark Devil knew a fraction of what all those who came before it had felt in the moments after the joining.

She gasps as she rockets from unconsciousness, chest rising and falling with sharp, painful intakes of breath. Somewhere in there she had asked Zee if they'd won. She's certain the magician had said yes.

Hopefully that part was not a dream.

The darkness that surrounds her is musty and damp. Once again, she startles into wakefulness in the middle of the Batcave, on the medical slab. It'd be cold and exposed, save for the medical equipment flanking her and the dull infrared emitters over her bed that keep her a balmy seventy-eight degrees. Just enough to be comfortable in the medical robe. Her creaking ribs are firmly taped down, and a dozen other small dings and scratches have been attended as well. None of Azalea's gear is visible, though.

"Try not to move," Batman says over the comm, his voice echoing from all directions. "I'll be along presently."

True to his word, a few minutes later Batman walks around the corner. Even to Azalea's inexpert eye, he looks tired. Like he'd much rather be resting. But he's moving with a stubborn determinaton, ignoring the pain. His armor looks completely new, weirdly, as if he'd changed out of the gear he'd broken into the party with. Next to him is a slight, decidedly feminine figure, clad in leather gear that looks suspiciously similar to his in manufacture if not style. Both are masked.

"You survived," Batman says. Is that grim humor in his voice?

Certianly not style. It's purple, and where Batman's mask reveals his mouth and jaw, Spoiler's covers the entirity of her face.

"She's stubborn like we are. Of course she survived," Spoiler quips. You can HEAR the grin in her voice, see it in the way she cants her head to look up at the Bat, and in how her blue eyes, visible int he holes of the mask, crinkle just a little bit. One hand goes to a hip, resting just above the new utility belt she's still crazy about. Still, even though the suit is so completely brand new! It's not at all what Az sae her in the first time they met.

Spoiler's attire then was purple spandex. No kidding. Purple athletic clothing, long sleeved high necked, and purple and black batter's gloves. This outfit is a serious upgrade for the young batling. Though not nearly as awesome as Batman's. Stephanie's certain his the kind to keep the best toys for himself. She turns back to Az, inclining her chin.

"Good morning, Daisy Head."

The Dark Devil does move, as per the usual ritual here, sitting p so that she's on the edge of the exam table she's come to think of as a second bed. It's so warm and comforting and accepting of her blood.

I love you exam table.


She sounds almost harrowed, her gaze moving around the cave in a slow arc, because now it all seems a little different. More acute. It isn't until she sees Batman and Spoiler that her predatory gaze takes on a scrutinizing bent.

Every motion. Every tug of a muscle, and the pain Batman fights through. She can almost feel it from here.

"Yeah I guess you don't play a player or.. something. Whatever that stupid fuck was up to I don't think he expected what's inside me. I sure as hell didn't expect the fucking headache."

She reaches up to rub at her temple, and then peeks at Steph. "Oh.. right. Spoiler. How's it goin'?" Of course she remembers the first Batling to not threaten or fight her! And it isn't the costume she remembers, or even the voice. It's the way she moves, something that before fighting Muller, she would not have been able to do.

It is both disconcerting, and thrilling all at once.

"Wait, is my hair messed up?" The daisy head has her reaching. Of course, it somehow manages to always look pretty wild no matter what she does, so not so much.

A low sound of irritation huffs from Batman's nose as Spoiler and Devil immediately sidetrack the conversation into hair care. And the language gets a scowl, too.

"Hanussen," Batman explains. "Also known as Muller. A former member of the Nazi party, and apparently as immortal as he claims to be. He attempted some kind of psychic dominiation on you," Batman tells Azalea. He looks at the instrument panel, then back at the scrappy girl in her robe. "I wouldn't get in the habit of thanking that presence in your skull for it, but I think it saved your life. Out of enlightened self-interst, I'm sure."

The language gets a few blinks from Spoiler. And at Batman's irritated huff, Stephanie wisely refrains from commenting about the hair even as she makes a mental note to take Az to a salon she knows. For now…

"His file in the computer, Batman? I'm about to head out and can keep an eye out for him or hints anyway," Spoilers says, being proactive about it.

Azalea hangs her head a little as she looks inward. Batman is saying all the things that line up with her current state of affairs. It feels different, not the chaotic roil of urges that come out of nowhere, but something more ever-present, and the way she's looking in Spoiler at that moment is a little less than wholesome.

But unlike a time before the encounter with Muller, where she might not notice her eyes wandering, she realizes right away and averts them, brow furrowing just a little before she scoots off the edge of her beloved exam table.

"It's got a big enough ego already, I doubt it cares if I thank it or not." She's missing her shirt this time, and the bandages from her ribcage up to her chest keep her modest enough. "Got my shirt around here somewhere? Fuck I should buy them in bulk. If I had, you know. Money." She takes a quick look around, eyes darting against darkness.

"As for that asshole, we should work with Zatanna to track him down. If we can find out where he went, maybe we can get him before more metahumans crawl over Gotham like a fucking plague."

"A moment."

Batman looks from Spoiler to Azalea. "Azalea. This is Spoiler. She'll be handling your regular training going forward," the Dark Knight tells the injured young woman. "You'll come here periodically for training and evaluation by me. But day to day, Spoiler is charged with training you in our ways. Figure out for yourselves what sort of relationship you wish to have."

"Your clothing was ruined. If you need gear, I suggest you talk to Spoiler to be your quartermaster for your equipment needs— /if/ she thinks that's the correct course of action. Over-reliance on gear is as dangerous as being mentally unprepared for a fight."

Girls have a 6th sense for being leered at. But as Azalea catches herself quickly means that Stephanie's doesn't bing right away. More of that language. Steph makes a note to start there.

"We'll meet at South Tower, eleven PM. Once you've gotten cleared here medically. My locker's last one on the right. There's some changes of clothes there I don't mind letting you borrow until we can figure things out." Read: Steph introduces herself out of mask and the girls can go shopping. She's got YouTube funds, after all. Having a camera woman would be nice… Maybe doing a shopping series… Vlog thing. Could be cute. She's already nodding at the ideas.

"We'll figure the rest out from there," she adds, holding out a hand to shake. Sempai noticed you!

Of course, when Batman outlines the training plan she gives a nod, her attention razor sharp as it flits between the two, and Batman's words of advice about gear echoes the sentiment he's been hammering into her since they first met. She had flashes of brilliance, could evens surprise him sometimes in their impromptu sparring matches, but it did not matter if she threw it all away to rage.

Spoiler's instruction and suggestion that she might get some new stuff perks her up, if only because she's been so poor for the very last year. In the meantime she'll just borrow some Batcave basics so she doesn't die in a fist fight. And of course, she shakes Steph's hand. She could never forget the first Batling to help her do some detecting.

"Thanks. I mean it."

Then her gaze turns back to Batman, looking up and up at the towering shadow of a man that is both the singular fear and hope of Gotham all at once. "You took a chance on me. I won't let you down."

Spoiler shakes the hand and with an apology about returning to her assigned patrol, flashes an encouraging wink at Azalea and vanishes.

Not literally. She walks around the corner.

Batman focuses back on Dark Devil, his all-white eyes unreadable and implacable. "I'm still taking a chance on you. You have a long way to go," he reminds her, ever the harsh taskmaster. "You're unruly, undisciplined, and somewhere between possessed and insane."

A beat passes. "And you went after the enemy without flinching or hesitating. You showed discipline and tactical planning. As long as you can keep the beast chained, it'll be a valuable ally in your fights to come."

A step forward, and her eyes run along the exposed part of his face. A feral scrutiny. That nostril flare she gives, like a beast picking up a scent. Could she know? The way she looks to his white-out eye lenses says she's still oblivious who the man behind the mask is, but then, she hasn't even bothered to ask. Maybe she just accepts the version of people put in front of her, without all the bullshit that comes with their baggage.

His evaluation, as it comes, is perfectly on point. She couldn't ever argue about her discipline or how off-kilter she is. In fact, when she first came down with this 'affliction', she almost asked to be put in Arkham herself. Turns out they don't take baby crazies, jut the big dogs. When his encouragement comes, it tugs at her humanity, and there's a moment where she pauses in her stare and conflict roils in her heart.

Then The Dark Devil is on him, hands parting the cape to slide arms around his middle for a clenching, desperate hug, the kind that lets her crush her cheek to his Bat-symbol, and release a little sigh of exasperation.

"I promise you I'm only hugging you because I know you hate everything about it." The white lies people tell.

Batman grunts and makes a soured, complaining sound. But he doesn't stop her, or fight her. His gauntlets rest on her shoulderblades and he gives her a hug in return. Briefly. Just a two count.

On three, his left hand slides up and he pushes his thumb into the nerve cluster at the base of her neck, making her right arm go completely limp and slowly pushing her back to arms' reach.

"That was your one. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday," Batman tells Azalea— but he seems like he's forcing it just a bit.

"Look no need to get romanti-erk!" Her arm goes numb and when she disengages she shakes it out, cracking her neck just the right way so some tingle begins to race down the line. As the wincing goes away and she rubs her arm, she looks back up at him, a more serious turn coming to her expression.

"I'm going to go sleep now. And then I'm going to go find a new shirt. Maybe some pants. If you find anything.. just keep me in the loop? I know I'm a trainee but with this whole Nazi Guy thing, it involves Zatanna and she has a habit of cutting out people she doesn't want to see hurt. If we hadn't been there, she would have been completely fucked, and if not for her I'd not have come this far in so short a time. I owe her too. Have to make some things up to her. I just want to help nail this guy to a nice thick piece of steel that we can drop into the ocean where he can live out his undying days staring at some fish. Or something."

Really, how do they incarcerate someone like that? It's clear Az is joking, but she isn't sure how they stop a madman magician who only needs his own blood to fuck shit up.

"Talk to Spoiler about clothing. Don't go wandering around the cavern unescorted. You don't know where the traps are." Now he MUST be joking, because there's no emotion on his face at all. Total deadpan.

Unless Batman's being dead serious.

"I'm looking into Muller. He was badly injured. If nothing else, it'll take time for him to heal. That gives us time to rest and regroup and plan our counterattack." He turns to leave. "Rest. For now."

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